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Love snorkelling in the sunshine and want to make sure your kids can enjoy it too?

29 September, 2014
More than 18 months ago, the NSW Government announced a six month 'temporary' amnesty permitting recreational fishing in marine sanctuaries. Marine sanctuaries comprise a mere 4% of the coastline and are critically important safe havens for our precious marine animals including turtles, dolphins, pelicans and huge numbers of of fish species. 
The amnesty was implemented overnight with no community consultation, and flies in the face of over 220 international scientists who have openly condemned the move. It has been over 100 days since Mike Baird announced his love of, and commitment to, healthy oceans, yet we have still seen no action. 
Spring into action this week and join hundreds of people across the country who are phoning Mike Baird’s office, sending him emails, writing letters, requesting meetings, and even just popping into his office to voice their concerns. Social media is also starting to pick up the topic with #SaveOurSanctuaries gaining momentum.
For those of you who live in the area, and would like to get out and about there will be an action at the flagpoles on Manly Beach at 11:30am this Saturday 4 October.
Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, whatever you do, you have the power to make sure this mistake is rectified and it is rectified now. Click here to add your voice to hundreds of Australians who care about the future of our marine life and our children's right to enjoy nature. 

Taking the axe to environmental protections: why what’s happening in Northern Queensland should have us all worried

29 September, 2014
With the Queensland election less than six months away, it’s time to take stock of the Newman Government’s environmental record. We’re all aware of its appalling failure to protect the Great Barrier Reef and its commitment to open up vast new coal mines in the Galilee Basin. What’s less well known is its backing for vast land and water grabs in Northern Queensland to support an increasingly flimsy “food bowl of Asia” fantasy. This ideologically fuelled agenda goes against the latest independent science and will destroy some of the world’s last remaining savannah woodland and free-flowing tropical rivers. The Gilbert River system in Queensland’s Gulf of Carpentaria is at the forefront of the battle between independent science and increasingly partisan politics. But as well as being a battle in its own right, it also illustrates a more systemic and worrying pattern of behaviour from this Government - typified by broken promises, shonky deals and disregard for the views of the public. Despite promising in the 2012 election campaign not to weaken tree clearing protections, the Newman Government took the axe to the Vegetation Management Act. Its changes now allow any land to be cleared for “high value agriculture”, which apparently includes crops that might only break even three years in every 10. That’s what’s happening on Strathmore Station in the Gilbert River catchment in Queensland’s Gulf Country. Thirty thousand hectares of previously protected savannah will be cleared for sorghum on land that the Government’s own soil maps show isn’t suitable for cropping. Another scheme in the Gilbert catchment, Integrated Food and Energy Developments (IFED) wants to clear 77,000 hectares, flood a further 18,000 hectares and suck up more than 550,000 megalitres of water a year – more than the volume of Sydney Harbour. Despite its own internal advice that the amount of water required by IFED could not be sustainably harvested from the river, the Newman Government gave IFED special Coordinated Project status. CSIRO research revealed that IFED needs at least three times more water and twice the land than is available, which should have been the trigger for the Newman Government to revoke IFED’s Coordinated Project status. Instead, the Government entered into a secret Development Protocol with IFED which the Wilderness Society believes will give IFED priority access to water. Unfortunately for the environment and other water users, IFED’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be considered under new one-stop-shop arrangements, meaning there will be no federal oversight. As such, it’s likely that IFED’s EIA will simply be rubber-stamped by the Newman Government. Water extraction at the levels proposed by IFED will have devastating impacts on both the river system and its estuarine and marine environments, including the $230 million Gulf fishing industry and the existing pastoral industry. But what’s happening on the Gilbert is also part of a bigger story. And it’s a story that should have us all worried. It’s about a Government so intent on pursuing its own ideological agenda it’s prepared to leave the environment, locals, existing industries and public consultation processes in tatters.

Book Review: My Year Without Matches, Claire Dunn

26 September, 2014
Claire delves into her experience living in the bush for one year with five others, honing their wild living skills. Claire had the role of campaign manager of the Wilderness Society Newcastle, and had left exhausted, having been so caught up in the achieving and protecting and doing, that she had lost her connection to nature. So she decided to get down and dirty in the Australian bush, something that she was usually working to save from the clutches of logging operations. Claire’s writing is honest and reflective, with golden veins of poetry running through it. It gives the reader a chilling sense of the beauty and the roughness of the wild. You can almost feel the changing of the seasons and the interconnectedness, from the bird chatter, the bare ground to the icy streams, there’s a spirit that runs through the land coming alive as you move through the year with Claire. Sometimes it felt like you were there sitting next to her. Yet, I absolutely felt appreciation for my warm, soft bed and my cup of tea obtained at the flick of the switch, as I turned the pages of Claire’s almost stubborn determination and perseverance she needed for such basic necessities. I was impressed by what humans can do. It was a reminder of what we can do to survive, our resilience. Claire did it boots and all. She didn’t shy away from anything that she faced and sought guidance when she needed it. Often. There are many thought provoking tidbits that weave the narrative together throughout the book. I loved hearing Claire’s reflection on the year. “The letting go muscles have stretched longer and wider.” It was a common theme through the writing, for just being, to surrender and trust in a process with uncertain end, despite the fear and self doubt. I think through this book, Claire is fulfilling the purpose she described, to be a bridge between the wilds and the city. Claire’s story tugs at the tiny space inside us all that longs to escape the daily grasp of routine, aching to heed the call of the wild. Interested in reading My Year Without Matches, you can purchase the book online and until 10 October $5 will go to the Wilderness Society. Review by Lily Denshire and Naomi Hogan

Protection for South Australian Marine Parks!

29 September, 2014
Great news! Today, the South Australian Parliament voted to protect our marine parks. This is great news for the playful and boisterous sea lions who call these wild seas home. With these incredible waters protected, the number of fish will increase and marine life will flourish. “After fifteen years in the planning and over $40 million of investment it’s a huge relief to know that South Australia will finally receive a great marine parks network in less than a fortnight’s time,” said Peter Owen, Director of the Wilderness Society SA. “Just as beautiful and unique areas on land like Wilpena Pound have been set aside for us all to enjoy, now areas in our oceans will finally get the level of protection they deserve. “In a few years time we’ll look back on the last couple of months and wonder what all the fuss was about as regional communities, and all South Australians, start to see the benefits marine sanctuaries bring,” said Mr Owen.

2014 state election environment forums: in the hot seat on climate and environment

15 September, 2014
The 2014 State election will set the agenda for environment and climate policy for years to come. So it’s time to put the major parties to the test on climate and environment. Who are the people that want this power and how do they intend to use it? Come and hear the major parties put forward their case for why they deserve your vote. We’ve invited each major party to explain their philosophies and outline their policies for the climate and our environment. With Michael Williams, Director of the Wheeler Centre.   ALP in the hot seat Who: Lily D’Ambrosio, Shadow Minister for Energy and Resources and Lisa Neville, Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change When: Tues 23 September 2014, 6-7:30pm Where: RMIT Building 80, Level 4, Room 11, 445 Swanston St RSVP:   Greens in the hot seat Who: Greg Barber, Victorian Leader When: Tues 30 September 2014, 6-7:30pm Where: RMIT Building 12, Level 5, Room 002, 394 Swanston St RSVP:   Coalition in the hot seat So far the Coalition has declined to attend, but the invitation remains open.

Bulldozing our Natural Heritage

12 September, 2014
Will this be Premier Baird’s defining moment?
Australia has an awesome natural environment, the envy of the world.  It is an essential part of our great outdoors way of life – our  beaches, our bush, our rivers, our clean air and water. 
You just have to look at our multi-billion-dollar tourism industry to see just how many people are attracted to our special places, like Byron Bay beach and the Blue Mountains.
Nature and the great outdoors are part of what defines us as Australians.
However, nature is not only our backyard- it is home to some of the most unique animal species in the world.  
Sadly, the NSW Government, under Premier Mike Baird, is failing to protect our forests, oceans and  our wildlife. 
Next week, Premier Baird could make a decision which would set the NSW Government on a dangerous course and leave their environmental credibility in tatters. 
In July this year, Glendon Turner, an Officer from the Office of Environment and Heritage died a tragic death in the line of duty attempting to enforce the Native Vegetation Act to stop illegal deforestation.  
As we speak some politicians and interested parties are poised to use Glendon’s tragic killing for their own political gain, by using the circumstances as a pretext for passing the Shooters and Fishers Party (S&FP) Native Vegetation Amendment Bill 2014 and repealing key provisions of the Native Vegetation Act 2003 (NVA). An Act that has saved an estimated 265,000 native mammals in just five years.
Support for the S&FP Bill, or any other measure to fast-track the existing review of the state’s biodiversity laws, would send a message to the community that violence is a legitimate tool to change laws or achieve other political objectives. 
This is simply unacceptable.
Australia’s wildlife crisis As Australian’s we are privileged to live in a society where we have the ability and the wealth to protect our species on our home soil, yet we don’t.
What many people don’t know is that Australia has the worst rate of mammal extinction on Earth. Almost one-third of the mammals that have become extinct globally in the past 200 years were Australian.
This terrible track record is made worse by the fact that most Australian mammals aren’t found anywhere else in the world. When we lose an Australian species, it is likely that the planet loses that species forever.
The single, biggest threat to wildlife is habitat loss, mainly driven by human activity. Our unique and iconic animal species are losing their homes at an unsustainable rate– from deforestation for timber primarily ending up as woodchips, to urban clearing for development, to large scale clearing for mining and gas projects.
Our landscape here in New South Wales has already been heavily cleared, with little remaining remnant forest.  We do not have much left to lose.
In NSW alone over 40% of our luscious forests have been lost forever and over 1000 plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction. 
An independent panel is currently reviewing our Biodiversity laws to develop a plan for a sustainable future. This review includes both the Native Vegetation Act and the Threatened Species Act. Changing the Native Vegetation Act now would be a serious undermining of this process.
Can you spare 10 minutes today? Nature needs your help.
We need the Premier to know that these laws are essential. Contact Mike Baird’s office today and let him know you are very concerned by the potential passing of the Shooters and Fishers Bill because it will:
• Set NSW back 10 years by returning to the dark days of broad-scale deforestation across NSW, having a devastating impact on biodiversity.
• Seriously weaken powers and penalties against illegal deforestation.
• Create major loopholes in consent and compliance.
• Illustrate that the Baird Government is happy to compromise what is in the public’s best interests for dirty backroom political deals.
• Undermine the transparent and community driven process that has already been established by the NSW Government (the Biodiversity Review).
We know the most powerful thing you can do is pick up the phone.
Please call the NSW Premier today on (02) 9976 2773
(If you’re more comfortable leaving a message, simply call after 5pm or this weekend)
Prefer to send a letter or email?
Address: 2 Wentworth Street Manly NSW 2095

Let's get environmental justice for the Leard State Forest!

11 September, 2014
Recently Whitehaven Coal announced the commencement of open-cut mining at Maules Creek. Winter clearing was contrary to the original Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) - given that many fauna in this region undergo torpor, a type of hibernation which makes them less able to escape bulldozers. The winter clearing was allowed by the Office of Environment and Heritage without proper consultation. The Maules Creek Community Council have now taken Whitehaven Coal to court.   The court case resulted in Whitehaven Coal backing down to halt their clearing during winter until a revised BMP was put forward and approved by our Planning Minister Pru Goward. The newly revised plan was provided by Whitehaven Coal to the Department of Planning and Environment (DoPE) on 27 August after legal proceedings had commenced. Whitehaven Coal have been seeking a decision from Minister Goward to accept their new BMP to avoid a return to court expected on 12 September. The revised plan, if approved, would nullify the legal challenge and allow clearing of Leard Forest in spring when young native animals are likely to be slaughtered in their nests. The NSW Government has indicated it has not yet made a decision on whether to approve or reject the revised BMP. We are now calling on the NSW Government to go a step further and provide a guarantee that they will not approve a revised plan until the full legal challenge has been heard and a judgement handed down. Because of people like you who’re putting pressure on Minister Goward and investigations into the mine approval process by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC)  --  the decision to mine the Leard Forest has been delayed. Ministers are less likely to approve a dodgy decision while a corruption scandal involving Whitehaven Coal is underway. This is a win. However there is a caveat - legal representatives have agreed that in order to get this adjournment, the DoPE will have to approve the new plan and allow Whitehaven Coal to restore proceedings to the Land and Environment Court in 24 hours. This means the Maules Creek Community Council will come before a duty judge in the next days. The matter will be dropped if the approved BMP has already cured the ills by agreeing that:1. The consultation on the plan was inadequate, and because of this inadequate consultation there will be real harm to the environment.2. The new BMP had better consultation and this is reflected in better clearing processes. Let's keep the pressure on Pru, and ask her to be True. Take Action Now! The NSW Government should not be changing the rules which allow mining companies to harm threatened species. The matter is set down for further mention on the 10 October 2014. Keep following this campaign on social media using #leardblockade and lets hope we can title the next update "Wise Minister denies revised Biodiversity Plan, Clearing halted until late summer"! Find out more: 1. ICAC Investigations   2. Go to the Leard  

Call Pru and ask her to be a hero for the Leard State Forest!

4 September, 2014
Thank you for taking the first step to contact our NSW Minister for Planning Pru Goward by visiting this site! Minister Goward, and her new departmental Secretary Carolyn McNally are being asked to cut Australia’s most controversial coal miner a special deal at the expense of threatened bird and bat species in the Leard State Forest  – this is your chance to say no, and help make Whitehaven Coal follow the rules at their Maules Creek mine site. In the next eight days, Whitehaven Coal will say to the NSW Planning and Environment secretary that even though their plan is to mine the forest for the next 30 years, waiting just three months before re-commencing forest clearing is too much for the community to ask. We disagree. As ICAC’s Operation Spicer continues to gather evidence of special favours, illegal donations and political treachery, we think it’s time that the NSW Planning and Environment department starts demonstrating to the community that rules are rules. The Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) under which Whitehaven had commenced clearing in May has been challenged by the Maules Creek Community Council. As a result of this, Whitehaven was forced to stop clearing until a full hearing on the case, which was scheduled for 2 September.  If successful, the challenge would stop any further clearing until the 1st February in accordance with the original BMP of June 2013. However, instead of leaving it to the court to decide the matter, Whitehaven has submitted a new BMP to the Department of Planning and Environment (DoPE), which if approved will negate the legal challenge and allow clearing to start on 1st November. The matter will go back to court on the 12 September to get advice from DoPE as to what their intentions are with regard to the new BMP.  This means that the Secretary of the DoPE has eight days to make a decision on whether to let Whitehaven change the rules and clear Leard Forest in spring and early summer when young native animals are likely to be killed in their nests. It’s not too late. This plan has not yet been approved. Please Call Pru Goward, Minister for Planning, 02 4861 3623 Talking Points State your name and where you live! I am calling to ask you to reject Whitehaven Coal's new Biodiversity Management Plan for its Maules Creek mine in the Leard State Forest. Please resist pressure to grant yet another favour to Big Coal at the expense of a  forest which the Government itself has described as “irreplaceable … with ecologically unique values”. Whitehaven’s forest-destroying plan lacks scientific evidence to prove that all the threatened species affected by this mine will be compensated in the offsets Habitat for key species won’t be enhanced, which means affected threatened species and a critically endangered ecological community of some of the rarest woodlands in Australia will decline. Remember to thank them for their time! P.S. People power at the #leardblockade is protecting the forest like our planning laws should! There have now been over 244 arrests in opposition to the mine and they will continue this month with Shenanigans! See the Facebook event page for more detail